January 18, 2014

Resilient Gauchos Storm Back to Win at Northridge, 79-69

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – In a game of huge momentum swings, UC Santa Barbara had the last swing and hit a home run with it, rolling past Cal State Northridge, 79-69 on Saturday night at the Matadome.

The Gauchos (11-5 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) showed tremendous resilience in handing the Matadors (10-9, 2-2) just their second home loss in eight games this season.

After jumping out to a fast start and leading 30-16, UCSB was outscored 12-4 over the final 3:24 of the first half and 9-2 over the first 2:01 of the second half to fall behind 39-36. 

But the Gauchos' 13-0 response was just as devastating and even more decisive. A pair of short power moves by Alan Williams, a slam dunk and three-pointer by Michael Bryson, and a pair of nifty darting lay-ups by Eric Childress turned a three-point deficit into a 49-39 lead with 14:18 left in the game.

"That run in the second half was very impressive," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "They (Northridge) did a great job of not swinging the momentum and getting the lead, but I thought ours was a powerful response, on both ends of the floor."

The Matadors tried to inch back into the game, but were turned back every time the rest of the way. They cut the Santa Barbara lead to six twice, but the last time came with 9:02 remaining. Even with Williams, the Gauchos' leading scorer and rebounder, battling foul trouble, the game never even seemed as though it was slipping away. 

"Tonight, a lot of different guys stepped-up," Coach Williams said. "We had some guys give us some great minutes. You expect things from certain guys, but tonight we don't win this game without Sam (Beeler), E (Childress) and Mitch (Brewe)."

Beeler, playing 14 minutes as Alan Williams' replacement, scored 10 points and made all four of his field goal attempts. He had six of his points in the second half, two on a breakaway dunk and four on lay-ups, as UCSB staved off Northridge. Brewe attempted just one shot and was scoreless, but he had a team-high eight rebounds, and Childress finished with six points, four of which came in the game-changing 13-0 run.

Williams finished the game with 16 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 24 minutes. When he scored his 10th point of the game, he became the 26th Gaucho to eclipse the 1,000 point mark. Bryson made 6-of-8 shots, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, and finished with 15 points. He also made a momentum-shifting slam dunk that gave his team a 40-39 lead with 16:59 to play. The Gauchos never trailed again. 

In addition to Williams and Bryson, Kyle Boswell had 14 points and a career-high eight assists, and Taran Brown had 12 points. 

As a team, UCSB made 51.9% of its shots overall while limiting Cal State Northridge to 37.0% overall. The Matadors, who were 25-of-32 from the free throw line, were led by Josh Greene who had 27 points, going a perfect 12-for-12 from the stripe. Stephen Maxwell added 18 points and 10 rebounds.

"This was a very good win in a tough place to play," Coach Williams said. "For us to bounce back like we did in this setting is very satisfying."

The Gauchos have now won two straight and eight of their last nine and will travel to UC Riverside for a 7:00 p.m. game on Thursday, Jan. 23. On Saturday, Jan. 25, they play at Cal State Fullerton in a 7:30 p.m. game that will be aired live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.